A phone interview is often a screening exercise with the employer checking some basic information, such as your reasons for applying and your availability to come in for an interview.
They can also be used if you or the recruiter are overseas and can't meet up in person.
The relative anonymity of a phone interview has its advantages. You can speak from your own home, without the added stress of travelling to an unfamiliar place in professional attire!
And because telephones are such an integral part of daily life, the situation will automatically be more natural for you than sitting across a meeting room table.
Nonetheless, don't let your guard down and adopt a casual attitude! Treat each phone interview formally, as though the interviewer is sitting right in front of you.
• The first and most obvious thing to say about a phone interview is that it takes place over the phone and is usually quite short. It’s stripped of all the body language of a face-to-face interview and, inevitably, the interviewer will want to get a quick impression of you.
A pleasant telephone manner is vital. Develop an attentive, lively tone. Listen carefully to the interviewer, and speak up when you respond. Remember: slow down and don’t babble.
• Have all necessary information and paperwork (such as your CV) on hand, and make sure your computer is on if you’ll need it to look up some things.
• Don’t read from a script! Although a list of your accomplishments and responsibilities will be useful, fully-prepared statements will make you sound fake, not prepared.
• Smile and sit (or stand) up straight. It will carry through to your voice, making you sound alert and enthusiastic.
• Another advantage of a phone interview is that you can take notes on the questions you’re asked plus your responses. What seemed to be successful? What should you avoid saying in future interviews?
• If you do take notes, though, don’t be so concerned with getting each word down that you need to disrupt the flow of conversation or constantly ask the interviewer to wait for you to catch up.
• Expect to hear some of the basic questions you’ll get in a face-to-face interview, for example "Can you tell me a little about yourself?" as well as questions about your background and motivation.
• If you do succumb to the temptation of being too personal or informal (or simply start rambling), use two or three unique selling points (USPs) to bring the focus back to your suitability for this company and job.
• Concentrate on what your interviewer is saying, and what their questions are trying to determine. Repeat keywords or phrases if you can – it shows you’re listening, and doing your best to give them the information they want.
• Don’t be distracted, either by your surroundings or by what you want to say next. It will come out through distant ‘umms’ and ‘uh-huhs’ or constant requests to repeat the questions!
• Conduct the interview in a quiet, noise-free area to make sure nothing ruins the conversation. Also inform others of when the interview is happening, so they don't burst in while it's going on.